A Touch of Copper from Tsubame (By Sarah Wilkowske)2023.03.08
That’s because this process physically and chemically changes the metal so it regains its softness. Then, the artisan can continue to work with the piece until it’s once again too hard, compressing the copper more and more each time. At Gyokusendo, pieces often go through this cycle 15 times before reaching their finished state. The examples of each stage that are displayed in the workshop show just how much work goes into each piece.
However, Gyokusendo is trying to change that by offering their apprentices a salary. Doing so will hopefully incentivize more people to consider the artisan’s path and keep the industry alive for years to come. One apprentice at the workshop is in his 30s, having left his former job to begin this journey later in life. It’s hard to imagine someone quitting an established career to dedicate themselves to a craft they won’t make money from for years, but with this new change, that might become more common.
(only Gyokusendo’s website is quoted, but I used the others for more research)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Wilkowske is an American living and teaching in Japan. After studying Japanese for many years, she moved to Niigata in 2022 and has eagerly been learning what she can about her new home. As a writer who is enthusiastic about Japanese culture, she is documenting her time in Niigata on her blog Redhead in Japan where she talks about what it's like to live in Japan--both the interesting and the mundane. You can read more of her work at here: https://www.tumblr.com/redheadinjapan and follow @redheadinjapan on Instagram for updates.